Reliance announces start of India’s answer to Wal-Mart

NEW DELHI, Aug 18, 2006 (AFP) – India’s biggest private company Reliance Industries said Friday it aims to launch its first store next month as part of a plan to build an Indian version of Wal-Mart, the world’s largest retail chain.

Reliance, whose main business is oil and petrochemicals, has said it plans to invest nearly six billion dollars in setting up the store subsidiary covering nearly 1,500 cities and towns in India.

“We will be opening our first store in Hyderabad in September and this will be a very large store with food, vegetables and staples,” Reliance Retail president Raghu Pillai told reporters in the Indian capital, according to the Press Trust of India.

The retail firm plans to sell a host of products from food and clothes to consumer durables and will roll out its business using a mix of neighbourhood convenience stores, supermarkets, specialty stores and hypermarkets.

Pillai said the company “plans to be across the country … as soon as we can” and would quickly reach 100 stores but gave no specific timeframe.

He said Reliance Retail would offer competitive prices by removing “extra costs from the supply chain.”

As part of its drive to cut costs, it is considering partnering con